Last week, as is becoming tradition, our talented Senior Chocolatier Rhona put her artistic skills to work to create a piece of chocolate art for Chocolate Week.
Last year Rhona created a Salvador Dali inspired cocoa tree, complete with solid chocolate cocoa pods. This year, her piece was a solid chocolate picture frame complete with a chocolate painted design inside. I was lucky enough to sneak a few pictures, as well as some tricks of the trade, whilst it was being created.
The first step was to take a custom made wooden base and turn it into a chocolate frame. The shape of the frame is inspired by our classic slab mould and is studded with mini domes of chocolate. To make the frame, Rhona used a food processor to blend different grades of chocolate together to form a paste that can be sculpted. Using different grades of chocolate together creates a specked effect to the finished piece. The blended chocolate needs to be shaped quickly as it starts to set. The initial shape is moulded by hand with finer details added using carving tools. After the frame has been sculpted, it is polished by brushing on layers of cocoa butter to give it a smooth shiny finish.
To create the picture inside, Rhona first painted the board with layers of white, milk, and dark chocolate, which was then etched into to create a cocoa bean inspired print. She used coloured white chocolate to reflect the natural colours found on cocoa pods. To complete the picture, Rhona made solid cocoa pods to hang in front of the frame. The finished piece used a whopping 12Kg of chocolate
The next challenge was to find an easel that was big and strong enough to secure the frame. After several failed internet searches, it became apparent that the only option was to build one.
Fortunately Adam (Head of Chocolate Development) was at hand and managed to build a supersized easel fit for a king – or, in this case, a giant chocolate picture. After a week full of chocolate sculpting, the picture was ready to wrap up and send to The Chocolate Festival where it would be displayed for the weekend.
Thanks to our slightly over the top labelling the sculpture made it in one piece to the festival and had pride of place on the stand. Over the weekend the beautiful finished piece attracted a lot of attention, with visitors split into two camps: those who wanted to eat it, and those who wanted to hang it on their walls!
Fortunately it survived the weekend without any bite marks and is now heading to our Hotel Chocolat Roast+Conch restaurant in Leeds, to continue being admired.